It isn’t good enough for your brand to simply exist in the social media universe today. Cultivating social media engagement should be a top priority if you want to remain relevant and impact your bottom line (plus, it is “social” media after all). But with so many different social media channels out there, each offering unique types of engagement (Likes, RTs, +1s, Comments, Shares, etc.), how can you know if the engagement you’re receiving is really helping?
As best-selling digital marketing author Jay Baer pinpoints, “The goal is not to be good at social media. The goal is to be good at business because of social media.” If this truly is your goal, it should change how your brand looks at social media engagement going forward. Not all social media engagement should be weighted equally.
3 Levels of Social Media Engagement
Consider the example of a struggling musician for a moment. This musician travels city to city, playing show after show in hopes of creating buzz for his newly released album online. At the end of each show, several people stand and applaud. Some are moved enough to say thanks or to have light conversation. A few are moved to the point of telling their friends about this amazing new artist they just heard! Okay, back to reality. Do those three audience reactions have the same impact on the artist’s goal of generating buzz for their album? Not at all. The same is true for measuring social media engagement and its impact on your business. Let’s discuss…
Applause is important. It lets you know if what you’re sharing is appreciated or not. Whether you’re a musician performing on stage or a brand sharing useful content, applause is confirmation and approval of your efforts. In the social media world, applause is a: “Like” | “Favorite” | “+1” | “thumbs up” | Etc. While important and positive, applause generally stays on the post it’s received within. It does little to push your message to more people.
Conversation is also important, but it takes the level of intimacy a step further. A concert will be much more memorable for someone who talked with the artist after the show, than it would be for someone who applauded, then left. Conversation in the social media world is a: “Comment” (most platforms) | “Reply” (Twitter) | “DM” | Etc. When conversation takes place on a social media post, it increases the chances for a couple of positive things to happen: 1) a friend or follower of the commenter may also see the post, and 2) dialogue may open, leading to comments from more people.
Amplification is the greatest form of appreciation a band or brand can receive from its fans (no, not guitar amplification). It means they didn’t just clap or say thanks, they shared your music or message with their network! Social media amplification is today’s word-of-mouth marketing, and the source of social virality: “Share” (most platforms) | “RT” (Twitter) | “Mention” (most platforms). When measuring social media engagement, your brand should place more weight on amplification metrics. All three levels are important and serve unique purposes, but word-of-mouth is too powerful to undervalue by lumping it with other types of engagement.
All things considered, engagement is just the tip of the social media measurement iceberg. The more conscious you are about the different types of social media engagement, the more impact they can have on your bottom line business goals.